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The Silver Lining About Wikileaks December 6, 2010

Posted by Bill in Afghanistan, barack obama, Current Events, Korea, Obama, Politics, Terrorism, Uncategorized.
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While my first reaction to the Wikileaks adventure was to prosecute them and to wonder how bad the diplomatic fallout would be, my second reaction on reading the specifics was to applaud the professionalism of what our government is doing to solve the many problems around the world.  

What really tickled me was that  Sarah Palin, in an interview about her new book, was asked what she would do differently that President Obama about North Korea.  After going on about our need for energy independence and how vulnerable she feels as an American with President Obama in charge of our security she finally answered that she would pressure China to lean on North Korea to get them to behave. 

Sure enough that is what President Obama and his people are doing.  Guess we don’t need Sarah Palin as president after all.  And ain’t that a relief, you betcha. 

Anyway, these leaks giving our diplomats an embarrassing moment.  However they do have the virtue of showing that the Obama administration is doing the right things in protecting and furthering America’s security and interests.  

I thought that this column by Leslie Gelb that appeared in the Dallas Morning News today summed up my thoughts very nicely. 

From   http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/viewpoints/stories/DN_1206edi_gelb.29020a91c.html

Leslie Gelb: How the WikiLeaks scandal actually helped the U.S.
In explaining his deed publicly, WikiLeaker Julian Assange suggests that what he’s doing is uncovering American misdeeds and lies. Yet here’s what he missed in what he turned over to the drooling press: Our diplomats were doing a good job.

Indeed, when you turn off his nonsense and stop listening to the strange commentary on cable news and even on the front pages of great newspapers, when you actually read the documents, here’s what you see: American leaders and American diplomats trying to solve crucial world problems.

U.S. policymakers and diplomats are shown, quite accurately, doing what they are supposed to do: ferreting out critical information from foreign leaders, searching for paths to common action and struggling with the right amount of pressure to apply on allies and adversaries. And in most cases, the villain is not Washington, but foreign leaders escaping common action with cowardice and hypocrisy.

Washington needs China’s help in bolstering sanctions against Iran, and China balks for fear of jeopardizing its oil and gas flow from that country. The Obama team arranges for Saudi Arabia to guarantee any loss in supply to China. If the world wants to slow or even prevent Iran’s march to nuclear weaponry, this is a key path to doing so.

The U.S. discovers that North Korea has manufactured medium-range missiles and is trying to deliver them to Iran through China. The Obama team discovers this, informs Beijing and asks Beijing to stop the transfer. Beijing declines. Really creepy.

Yemen’s leader takes public responsibility for American missile attacks against al-Qaeda in Yemen. He wants to diminish the power of these terrorists, as do Americans and most others in the world. The “lie” by the Yemeni president is a harmless way to get a critical job done — that is, the job of fighting international terrorism. WikiLeaks tears away the political cover of Yemen’s leaders.

No country has anywhere near as much influence over nutty North Korea as China. So, U.S. diplomats are searching desperately to figure out Chinese thinking about North Korea in order to compose a plan for avoiding war on the Korean Peninsula. So, the Wikileakers expose some Chinese leaders who are actually trying to give us some insight into Chinese thinking about North Korean craziness. They won’t do that again soon.

Time and again, as one actually reads these cables, one has to be heartened by the professionalism and the insights of U.S. diplomats. What are they doing? They are not lying, and U.S. leaders are not lying. They are actually, believe it or not, trying to solve problems. That seriousness of purpose and the professionalism to execute it is what jumps out at you in these materials.

So, the naïve say, it’s good to show the effectiveness of our diplomats. Give me a break. Ask any American diplomat to choose between looking intelligent in leaked cables and making progress toward avoiding war.

None of this is to say that there should not be leaks, or that the press should not pursue classified information that is necessary or very helpful to a sensible public debate on policy. If a U.S. administration is lying, or distorting the facts, or telling one story to the public and another to itself, then by all means, let’s have it out in public. If the U.S. government is concocting intelligence in order to justify wars, let’s hope an enterprising reporter finds it out for the rest of us.

But the WikiLeaks dump is not about providing essential information to Americans or to others — information they need for serious policy discussion. This massive trashing by WikiLeaks of a legitimate effort by the U.S. government to preserve confidentiality is the very least a shame and at the most, a crime.

 Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official, is author of Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy (HarperCollins 2009). A longer version of this essay first appeared in The Daily Beast, http://www.thedailybeast.com. © 2010 RTST, Inc.

I Guess It’s Only Wrong if Obama Does It May 30, 2010

Posted by Dindy in barack obama, Obama, Politics, Uncategorized.
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The other day I violated one of the unofficial Facebook rules– I posted a comment in response to someone’s message in which I disagreed with that person’s message. Facebook is kind of a warm and fuzzy place– it has a like button that you can click if you like someone’s post but there is no dislike button. It is generally understood that even if you disagree with what someone says in a post, you don’t say so in a comment. However, I had someone post a negative comment in response to a cause I signified support for a few weeks ago, so when she posted a petition yesterday about Obama’s Memorial Day plans and added a comment expounding on Obama’s disrespect for men in uniform and his betrayal of his duty to his country, I felt it only fair to ask her if she had thought the same thing when  Dubya handed off the duty to Dick Cheney in 2007? Or when Bush I handed it off to Dan Quayle in 1992. Or when Reagan handed it off to his Deputy Secretary of Defense in 1983? I also pointed out to her that Obama is NOT skipping the Memorial Day ceremony, but will be giving a speech at the national cemetery in Illinois on Memorial Day. I asked her if it only counted as doing his duty if he was in Washington.

Not surprisingly, the comments in response to mine have been very supportive of her and not of me– after all, I did break a FB rule. One guy angrily told me that he had noticed that I only referenced Republican presidents; evidently he was unaware that the last Democratic president before Obama, Bill Clinton, spent all eight of his Memorial Days at Arlington National Cemetery. However, in the spirit of fairness, I will note that Jimmy Carter apparently did not visit Arlington on Memorial Day, in 1978. Ford attended both Memorial Days while he was in office but Nixon apparently did not attend at all.

The friend on whom I posted the comment responded thoughtfully and admitted that she didn’t like Obama, didn’t think he was qualified for office, thought he was a poor president, and added that the fact that his predecessors had done the same thing did not excuse him.

I appreciated the thoughtfulness of her response, however, my point to her, which apparently was lost, is that Obama is NOT disrespecting our soldiers. On Memorial Day he WILL be attending and speaking at a ceremony at a national cemetery. However he will be attending the ceremony at the national  cemetery in Illinois and not in Virginia. Here is my problem– once again the talk show pundits are seizing on a non-issue and working people up into a frenzy about something that isn’t even true. If you don’t think Obama is a good president– fine. I thought Dubya was a lousy president. If you want to criticize Obama for his policies, fine. I thought Dubya’s policies sucked. But don’t criticize Obama for disrespecting American troops and Veterans by claiming he is ditching them on Memorial Day to vacation in his home town when it just isn’t true. That only hurts your own credibility, and makes me seriously question your motives for criticizing Obama in other areas.

Arizona Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough April 23, 2010

Posted by Dindy in barack obama, Current Events, Obama, Politics, Right wing, Uncategorized.
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The State of Arizona, in an attempt to prove that Texas does NOT have the dumbest legislature in the USA, is considering a bill requiring presidential candidates to submit documents to the Arizona Secretary of State proving that they satisfy the constitutional requirements to be president. The Arizona House passed the measure on Wednesday on a 31 to 29 vote and now it goes to the Arizona Senate for approval.

Personally I don’t think the bill goes far enough. Why not pass a bill requiring candidates to provide proof of EVERY claim they make? After all, there is more evidence for Obama being a US citizen than there is for George Dubya Bush having served his full six years in the National Guard.

Wouldn’t that be something if every time a presidential candidate opened his/her mouth to speak, s/he had to provide proof that what s/he said was true? Would SOME candidates have a hard time with that? You betcha!

Let’s face, there is nothing in this world that will satisfy the whackos who insist that Obama is not a US Citizen.Countless media organizations have rebutted claims that Obama is not a US citizen, every judicial body that has looked at the matter has concluded that Obama is a US citizen, the Hawaiian government officials who are in charge of birth certificates have stated that his Hawaiian birth certificate is valid, but the whackos are determined NOT to be satisfied. In fact, they are so busy deluging the State of Hawaii with requests for Obama’s birth certificate– up to 50 a month– that the state is considering a law of its own– one that will allow it to ignore repeated requests to produce the document.

Actually, I think the State of Hawaii is missing a golden opportunity here. Obama has already made copies of his birth certificate freely available on the internet. If these right-wing idiots insist on demanding a copy of a document that is freely available on the internet, go ahead and provide it for them– at $500 a pop. Fifty requests a month at $500 each– Hawaii could go a long way towards balancing its budget on that kind of money. As a wise person once said– you can’t do anything about the idiots in the world, so you might as well make money off them.

Gay Guidelines For The Military March 27, 2010

Posted by Bill in Current Events, Uncategorized.
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“On the same day that Fort Shafter-based Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon was being dressed down for urging soldiers to oppose repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the Marine Corps’ top uniformed officer said in an interview that he would seek separate quarters for his troops if Congress votes to allow openly gay service.

In an interview with Military.com published yesterday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said, “I would not ask our Marines to live with someone who is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it.”  honoluluadvertiser.com

The gays are coming, the gays are coming!   And hopefully not in our military men but you never can tell nowadays. 

For the first time ever we are faced with the prospect of gays fighting alongside straight men and women in our military, with sharing the mess halls and the living quarters not to mention the foxholes and bunkers.  Never before in our history have gays served alongside the fighting straights.   Through all of our wars and peaces we have never had gays in our military.  Until now.  Until this President and this Congress.  Until this point in history. 

With Congress and our President now hell bent on allowing gays to serve in the military General Conway is positively prescient in seeing the need to develop the proper set of guidelines for how to deal with this possible menace to our military might and cohesion. 

Here are some Befuddled 2 suggestions that I feel sure that General Conway will properly appreciate. 

1)      Gay troops must march separately from straight troops.  If they must march together then gay marines must be in front so that they will not leer at the asses of the straights.

2)      In combat zones gays must have separate foxholes from straight troops.  I would not ask our Marines to share a foxhole together during enemy fire. 

3)      Gays must eat separately when bananas are served lest it arouse lecherous and lascivious thoughts.

4)      Should there not be enough quarters to keep the gays and straights separate then rather than bunk gay men with straight men and lesbians with straight woman the lesbians will bunk with straight men and the gays with the straight women.

5)      The remains of dead gays and lesbians will be transported separately from those who are straight.  To facilitate this gay body bags will be pink. 

6)      Wounded gays and lesbians will be transported separately from the battlefield from those military who are straight.  To avoid any confusion when coming across unconscious soldiers dog tags will be pink for gays and lesbians. 

 And my final suggestion for General Conway – step down from being Commandant of the Marines and let someone with half a working brain take over. 

Or as Bob Dylan once sang:

Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

“Times They Are A Changing”

Declaring Darwin Day – The Why Not January 31, 2010

Posted by Bill in barack obama, Church and State, Evolution, Religion, Religious Right, Schools, Science, Uncategorized.
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Just recently I found out about a petition circulating to have President Obama declare February 12 Darwin Day. It is an attempt to gain recognition among the general public of the great scientific accomplishments of Charles Darwin and the fundamental place his thoughts, ideas, and theories have in biology today.

 http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/318/t/10503/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=2221

I did not sign it and in fact am arguing against the whole idea.

Let me first state that I am a firm supporter of evolution. I have looked at the evidence and read numerous articles and books from both sides – evolution wins hands down. The fact that organisms have changed and evolved over time is as firm a fact in science as any.

Further Charles Darwin’s theory on how evolutionary change occurs – natural selection – still holds as either the sole or one of the primary mechanisms of evolutionary change.   I also think that Charles Darwin completed the scientific revolution which consisted of changing explanations about how nature works from God did it to natural processes. This had with scientists such as Galileo and Newton in the physical sciences, but finally finished with Darwin taking this view into the life sciences.

There is no doubt that Charles Darwin was one of the greatest and most influential scientists in history.

So why am I not signing the petition and urging others not to sign?

Not because I disagree with what it says but because I believe that this is the wrong way to go about showing the public that evolution is not only good science but a fundemental part of biology. Not only is it the wrong way but I feel it can actually be counter productive.

Currently the only reason creationism is a threat to science is because so many believe and support it. The leaders of the creationist movement (and I am including Intelligent Design which is just a subset of creationism) have managed to organize those numbers into a very effective political machine. It is their mix of religion and politics that is posing a threat to effective teaching of science.

A part of their arguments is that evolution is supported by an atheistic establishment, one that does not want to acknowledge the new “evidences” that show evolution wrong and creationism right (remember the movie Expelled?).

Given that,  imagine how well having the President proclaim Darwin’s Day will play. The creationists, good public realtions swills that they are, will use this as evidence that since evolution could not cut the mustard as a science that the establishment is once again resorting to politics. This petition would only  provide more fuel for their arguments.

My proposal?

 Have President Obama proclaim a Science Day.

A day in which we recognize the achievements and accomplishments of science and scientists such as Newton, Galileo, Einstein, Bohr, and others are recognized and their achievements and influence on our society and world listed and enumerated. And in the company of these giants have Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution. Put him in his proper place on a par with Einstein and Newton.

That would be a far better and more effective way to defend evolution than this well intentioned but not well thought out petition.

Crashing the White House November 29, 2009

Posted by Bill in barack obama, Current Events.
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I have to admit to having mixed feelings about the couple that crashed the White House party and got to meet several dignitaries as well as the President Obama and Michelle. 

 On the one hand I am concerned that security was that lax to allow this to happen. 

 On the other hand – Way to go Salahi’s!

 I believe there is something in the American psyche that has always felt respect for the rebellious.  After all, this nation was born out of rebellion, not only rebellion against Britain but also against the ideas of the time. 

 The United States was a democracy in a time of Aristocracy.  The United States was formed with the consent of the people in an unheard of series of  regional conventions where all voters voted on whether to accept the Constitution. 

 The United States was a secular nation in a time of religious states.  All the European powers professed a state religion and backed it with their power.  Even many of the individual states at the time of the revolution did the same.  But instead of following tradition and history we rebelled and enshrined the separation of church and state and allowed freedom of conscience to be followed. 

 Being born of rebellion and with our history of expansion and individualism we are primed by our history to sympathize with the rebellious.  Although I have to admit that the 1960’s and 70’s with the hippie movement and civil rights may test this rather broad statement – I would point out in defense that our society did change for the better and it was due to the rebelliousness of this time.

 However what Tareq and Michaele Salahi did does not even begin to rise up to either of the two mentioned acts of rebellion mentioned above.  I also can’t help remembering some of my readings about the White House in the early days of our Republic.  A time where the White House and the President were more accessible and not surrounded and hidden by security. 

 Most specifically I remember Andrew Jackson’s White House first inaugural celebration where all were invited.  

 Of course I also remember that it also got out of hand and the crowd  not only took a way a few knick knacks for souvenirs but also pretty well trashed the place.  And then the were the two assassination attempts on President Jackson. 

 Perhaps I had better root for the Secret Service and all to beef up the security.   

 

 

 

Finally Something We Can Agree On October 1, 2009

Posted by Dindy in barack obama, Current Events, Obama, Politics.
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In the wake of the furor over Kanye West’s actions at the MTV Video Awards- you know, when he grabbed the mike from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech and gave a shout out to Beyonce Knowles- we have some refreshing honesty from the only man in the world who could probably get away with saying publicly what we all were thinking privately.

Obama calls Kanye West a jackass

I don’t think I’ve heard anyone disagree with Obama on this– not even those critics who hate him so much they can’t accept the fact that they were born in the same coutnry as Barack Obama.

And here’s something else, too. There have been a number of accusations that Obama’s critics are racists. Most notably former President Jimmy Carter came out and said that the opposition to Obama is grounded in a deep seated racism.

“I think that an overwhelming proportion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, he’s African-American,” Carter told NBC television.

Obama, however, doesn’t see it that way. According to White House Spokesperson Robert Gibbs,

“The president does not believe that the criticism comes based on the color of his skin. We understand that people have disagreements with some of the decisions that we’ve made and some of the extraordinary actions that had to be undertaken by this administration.”

Funny, I don’t think I’ve heard a single one of Obama’s critics disagree with him on this statement either. I guess they don’t disagree with Obama on absolutely everything.

Protesters stand for What- Exactly? September 14, 2009

Posted by Dindy in barack obama, Obama, Politics.
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So depending on who you listen to, 60,000 – 70,000 people (according to a statement issued by ABC News disputing claims that it had earlier stated 1 to 1.5 million) or 1 -1.5 million (the number held to by Freedomworks, the group that organized the event and a group that has every incentive to stick with the higher number no matter the facts) marched on Washington to protest government spending.

Protesters were there ostensibly to complain about government spending, although one has to wonder where all these people were when George Dubya Bush was building up the deficit and sinking the country further into debt. They sure weren’t protesting government spending then!

One brilliant guy, Richard Brigle said health care needs to be reformed, but not according to Obama’s plan.  “My grandkids are going to be paying for this. It’s going to cost too much money that we don’t have.” Sweetie, I got news for you– your grandkids are going to be paying for Dubya’s war for a LONG time. And they’re going to be paying for the government bailout that had to be enacted because of Dubya’s economic policies for a LONG time.

There’s an old saying– if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Let’s hear some ideas from the other side about how to fix the health care system. We know what they are against (anything proposed by Obama.) Let’s hear what they are for.

The Remark Heard Round the World September 11, 2009

Posted by Dindy in Obama, Politics.
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“You lie!”

Two words. Two small words. A challenge to be sure. An insult.

And in uttering them  Joe Wilson, a  lawmaker from South Carolina may have unwittingly ensured that health care reform will happen.

The last few months have seen a real break down in civility in the American political process. Not that it’s ever been particularly civil, but since Obama took office we have seen a huge deterioration of political civility  unlike any we’ve seen before. From town hall meetings that look more like a barroom brawl to the lies and claims about senior citizen death panels, it’s enough to make you wonder if everyone remembers that we are actually all living in the indivisible United States.

What is impossible not to see is the fact that an incredible amount of antipathy and hatred has been focused against one man, Barack Obama, the President of the United States, and I am truly at a loss to explain why. After all, his detractors keep claiming it’s not because he is black, so it surely MUST be something else.

Obama  faced uncivility and rudeness long before he took office. When Obama visited a North Carolina barbecue joint in late October, a woman at the back of the restaurant yelled, “Socialist, socialist, socialist — get out of here!” Another woman actually refused to shake hands with him. Just stop and picture this for a moment. Picture walking into your local Tony Roma’s or Spring Creek Barbecue and as you do, a voice from the back yells, loudly enough for all to hear, “Socialist! Socialist! Get out of here!” Despite this you continue to walk into the restaurant. You go from table to table and stop to speak to the folks sitting there. As you extend your hand to one woman, you politely ask, “How are you ma-am?” and she pulls her hand away and refuses to shake yours.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine the guts it took to walk into that restaurant? Yet, Obama not only went into the restaurant, but he went around and spoke to each of the diners- at least the ones who WOULD talk to him. Blazing Saddles anyone?

Since Obama was elected, we’ve been treated to the harangues by the birthers, a group of nitwits who insist that Obama is not actually a US citizen and have actually tried to file lawsuits declaring his election invalid. Earlier this week we saw a protester greeting the presidential motorcade at a school where Obama had gone to speak. The protester held a sign saying, “Mr President, stay away from our kids.” And now we have a lawmaker who broke the decorum of an address to a joint session of Congress to directly challenge the President. “You lie!”

Can you imagine sitting in a meeting with your boss and the CEO with all of the stockholders of your company watching? Imagine your CEO talking, laying out proposals for the upcoming year and all of the sudden you just feel compelled to burst out with, “You lie!”

What on earth would ever make ANYONE think that this kind of behavior is permissible? Sadly, a lot of people not only seem to think it is okay, but they welcome it. GOP leaders have been quick to criticize Representative Joe Wilson, but Wilson’s SC constituency had some different opinions to offer:

“He’s the only one who has guts in that whole place. He’ll get re-elected in a landslide,” said John Roper, an insurance agent, as he sat among patrons at a diner near Columbia. ~ AP Yahoo News

However, the remark seems to have galvanized Democratic lawmakers who seem, finally, to have realized that enough is enough. Nobody likes a bully, and Wilson’s remark, combined with images of hysterical right-wingers demonizing the President for daring to tell kids to stay in school and study hard, makes it clear that Obama’s opponents are just, plain and simple, bullies.

Now the Dems have finally found their voice- and their spine. They’ve finally realized that they are in the same party with Obama and are vowing to pass health care reform with or without the GOP. The Dems are voicing their support for the president and speaking out against the rudeness. They are finally realizing that civil discourse does not mean that anything goes.

It’s about time.